Arsenal: can we have decent pay for cleaners, free water, crowd control, and dignity for the elderly?

Dear Arsenal,

As we approach the new season I have left over in my notebook a few odds and ends from last season, which, I’d like to share.

These are things I think you ought to do as a club.  These items are not presented in an order of importance, and they are by no means all equally important.  But to my mind they need to be said and remembered.

So here’s my memo to Arsenal on outstanding issues, which I do hope they will address, if they haven’t already.

1: Paying all staff the London Living Wage and tell us you are doing this.

At the last AGM a question was asked about Arsenal salaries.  In essence the issue is whether Arsenal pay all its staff, and whether it insists that its sub-contractors pay all their staff, either the statutory minimum wage or better, the London Living Wage.

The London Living Wage at £8.80 per hour is significantly more than the statutory minimum wage which is (according to the government web site) £6.31 per hour, although I believe it changes on 1 October.

I hope Arsenal pay the minimum wage, in fact I am sure as an honourable club they do so willingly.  And I hope they pay the London Living Wage too.  Which raises for me the question of why at the AGM Arsenal answered a question about wages with the comment

‘The London Living Wage is well intentioned but the issue is complex and political and, in any case, the Arsenal benefits packages are generous in market terms.’

All I am asking is that Arsenal says, “of course our values demand we not just abide by the law, but of course we will pay the London Living wage.   We want to have the best stewards, cleaners and assistants at all levels.  That’s why our toilets are clean, and work perfectly.  That’s why our catering facilities work.   That’s why you can always feel safe in the stadium no matter what the nutters in the away end get up to. The fans matchday experience as a whole is very important to us.”

2: Treating the elderly with dignity

All clubs in the Premier League give their supporters who are classified as “senior” (which could mean 60 plus or 65 plus) the chance to buy season tickets at a discount.

Except that Arsenal do this by insisting that the senior supporters move to the “family enclosure” whether they go with their family or not.

So a supporter who has been coming to Arsenal for 40 years or so is told, “sure, we recognise your long dedication to the club – and we recognise that in your later years your income may well decline considerably.  So please take a discount – but just make sure you sit with the kids, rather than with your pals who you have been coming with for all these years or dedicated support.”

It is a shame that Arsenal stands alone in this matter.  Even Tottenham give their senior fans a discount, while allowing them to stay in their same seat.  Mind you I guess most of their older fans pass away from boredom before they get to 65, so maybe it doesn’t matter so much there.  But it does matter at the Ems.

3: Stopping the flares 

I made the prediction last season, and I’ll make it again.  When we play the Merseyside clubs their fans will bring in flares and/or smoke bombs, and will be active in blocking the routes of stewards who try to get in and deal with the problem.

Flares and smoke bombs are incredibly dangerous and the measures taken last season to stop these objects entering, and to eject fans who bring them in, were ineffectual.

Of course the people most likely to get injured by these objects are supporters of Merseyside clubs and stewards.  I take it the stewards know the risk, and take on their jobs knowingly, but that is no excuse for not changing the way the problem is dealt with.

We have also seen the same problem arise with supporters of overseas clubs, and although this does not happen with every overseas team, it can happen.

I do hope the club has had a chance to put these policies right.  The matches against the Merseyside clubs will tell us.

4: Tottenham and a minority of its following

I love the atmosphere when we play Tottenham.  I love the chants, the humour, and I understand that for some all this erupts into anger.

But I do not think it is acceptable just to let pass fact that Tottenham fans threw objects at ambulance men when they were trying to help Theo from the pitch.

I trust something is going to be done to ensure that there is no repeat of that behaviour.  If not, something far worse could happen.  The nutters among them (and of course it is just a minority) seem to know no limits.

5: Unavailable food and drink.

One of the most annoying things anyone can do in the Emirates at half time is spend ten minutes queuing for a product that is advertised as available and then be told as the second half is about to begin, that the food or drink is not available.

Is it not possible to instruct the catering company that when a product is not available a sign is put up to say, “No cappuccino” or whatever?  It doesn’t have to be a digital display.  Crayon on cardboard would do.

Could you remind the sub-contractors that it is actually contrary to the Sale of Goods Act to offer for sale a product that is not available.

6: Make sure all the speakers are working

I’m told that the sound system in the lower north bank didn’t work all last season.  I would be nice if it is fixed.  My mate Drew sits there and he wants to hear some of the announcements.

7: Free tap water.

The Mandatory licensing conditions introduced by the Licensing Act 2003 (and known now as the Mandatory Licensing Conditions Order 2010) introduced four conditions that apply to all licensed premises and those with a club premises certificate in England and Wales.

They are…

  • a ban on irresponsible promotions
  • a ban on dispensing alcohol directly into customers’ mouths
  • mandatory provision of free tap water
  • the mandatory provision of smaller measures

Now I doubt very much if there is any reason to suspect that the licensee is breaching the first two points, but I rather suspect the third point is being ignored, because I have asked for free tap water and been refused.

I did nothing about it last season because I thought it was just a slip on the club’s part of that of the licensee, but I am sure you will have sorted this Arsenal.

By law you must provide free tap water to everyone who wants it, at the bars.


So there we are – my wishes for this season.

There is so much that Arsenal does well.  Having tickets  at the lower end of the price scale for some games is great news.  The £10 for the league cup games is terrific.  The comfort and view from my seat in block 99 is tremendous.   The screen is close by and I get a good view of the replays.  The quality of football we see is wonderful.  You have seen off the AAA, and made good on your promise to keep us in the top four while this fabulous stadium is built.

So Arsenal, thanks for all that.  But if you could just see your way to sort out these issues for the new season, I’d be very grateful.

I remain sirs, a dedicated fan of the club,

Tony Attwood

Today’s anniversaries are on the Untold Homepage.

The books

The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.


17 Replies to “Arsenal: can we have decent pay for cleaners, free water, crowd control, and dignity for the elderly?”

  1. Well said,also ask why when Arsenal supporters go to away games they are shoved into the gods and corners of stadiums, while away supporters at the Emirates get great seats.

  2. With Untold Arsenal looking for people attending Arsenal home games to visit all the various pubs and food places near the stadium and report on them, it might be possible for the various reporters to mention whether the establishments in question paid their employees the minimum wage, or the London Living Wage. I can see where that question might not be appreciated by establishments that don’t pay to either of these levels, so perhaps what reports might do is mention these wage levels if the pay is at or above those levels, and say nothing at all about wages if the pay level isn’t high enough?

  3. We must be the only P.League Club Stadium, where “Added Time”, at the end of each half, is NOT announced through the sound system. It is only shown on the 2 screens after the 4th official has shown it by the half-way line but most of the time both can be missed if more important things happen on the pitch!!!

    Can we please, bring about some pressure, so that this absurd Stadium policy gets changed?

    Filippos Mavroskoufis (Gold member) and on behalf of the following:

    Simeon Mavroskoufis (Gold member)
    Peter Kahn (Gold member)
    Dimitri Loulakakis (Gold member)
    Paul Lowenberg (Gold member)
    Clive Bayliss (Gold member)
    Julie Fitzgerald (Gold member)
    Alistair McIntosh (Gold member)
    ….as well as practically all Arsenal supporters who sit around us at the stadium and agree with the need for AUDIO announcement of the “Added Time” !!!!!!!!!! ( and whose full names I don’t know)

  4. Dear Tony

    You are turning into a proper whiner. I used to love your site. What has happened? Not enough clicks?

  5. Tony, good points!

    From the last accounts, there were 537 full-time(part-time not disclosed) employees plus 817 temporary match-day employees.

    Median Hourly earnings for London was £15.84 per hour (excluding overtime). Source – ONS April 2013.

    The Arsenal have to pay the going regional rate, the club cannot be immune to local pay differentials, neither can Spurs. That is why, similar to HM Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise, I have a spreadsheet comparing in so far as possible, the two North London clubs.

    ALL contracts IMVHV, include a clause, wherein it is stated that the contracted party must adhere to statutory wage rates and conditions of employment. I am sure Mr Gazidis, insists on this!

    There are ways and means, that tronc-masters can manipulate the salary structure!

    I would suggest that The Arsenal employ such sub-contractors, only in an emergency.

  6. Tony,
    I’m quite surprised at the intensity and demand of your post.
    The little you are requesting should have been a natural pre-requisite of a great Club like Arsenal, for many years past.

  7. well, if we’re going to complain to Arsenal on Untold (wow), then I have one to add:
    8. If you’re going to sell tickets, please inform your customers correctly.

    Here’s my little story:
    I bought 2 tickets for the Emirates Cup. I did this on the 6th of june, so almost 2 months in advance.
    On my booking confirmation it was stated that these tickets would be delivered to my home address in the Netherlands.

    But on the 14th of july, some 5 weeks later, I still hadn’t received anything. So I sent an e-mail to the box office, pointing out several contradictory statements on various pages of the, and basically asked them where my tickets were.

    I received a reply on the 15th of july, and in this mail it said amongst other things:
    “(Your particular match tickets were printed and dispatched on the 11th July 2014)”

    Ok, so I just had to wait for the mail-man (or to be specific: one of them, since we have lots of mailmen every day in my country since my government felt it would be a great idea to “liberalize” the market for mail). But I was getting a little bit anxious, because I had planned a holiday to Britain around my trip to the Emirates, and was leaving for that on the 23th.
    But surely, even with the liberalized postal market, something sent from the UK on the 11th would reach Holland before the 23th ? I buy lots of stuff on ebay from China, and that sometimes only takes a week to arrive….

    On the 23th, as we drove off to Duinkerken (or as they say in Belgium: Dune-Church), there were no tickets.

    I had written down a telephone number to call; it was on the website. But it also said this number could only be called from the 30th of july. So I had to wait another week.

    In the morning of the 30th (by this time we were on a campsite in London) I started calling the number. After selecting the options in the computer-voice-menu, I got treated to a “waiting music” of commentators describing past Champions League-goals. Fabregas scored. And then there was: “Sorry, we are experiencing massive call-ins at this time. Please be advised that the waiting time can be in excess of 20 minutes…” And then Henry scored, and a little later, Fabregas scored the same goal again.
    After Fabregas had scored the same goal five times, I gave up, and decided to try again in the afternoon.

    And so I did, sitting on the grass in a park near Buckinghame Palace. I went through the same routine, which I forgot to mention also included a tape advising me, that: “continuing with this call […] could result in the termination of your membership and cancellation of any tickets purchased” or something, I don’t remember the exact words but the message was quite clear. If a FIFA-phone-line would contain such a message, I’m sure Untold would be writing many articles about it. Fabregas scored 7 times, but I finally got to speak to an actual person answering the phone.

    And in this conversation, it was revealed to me, that my tickets had never been sent out. They were waiting for me at the box office. And if I was to collect them on match day, on the south western collection point.I should expect 1 hour queues….

    I went and collected them the same day, of course. And the match itself two days later (saturday, not sunday) was quite enjoyable: my girlfriend and I are soon launching a “I was there when Sanogo scored (4 times!)”-T-shirt.

    But somehow I feel that I’ve had elevated stress-levels for weeks, simply because Arsenal did not do what they said they would do. And having someone say “sorry”, “I’m very sorry”, “I’m very sorry for the misinformation”, “Could you give me the name of the employee who mailed you this ?”(I didn’t) after listening to Fabregas scoring the same goal over and over, does not make everything all right.

    It tainted the experience, and could easily be avoided in my view.

  8. It would be useful to have a contact email address (other than the box office one).
    The web site’s pretty good, but unlike most commercial dot coms it doesn’t have the “contact us” facility.

  9. I’m with nicky and bjtgooner on this one -for a club with this stature , it is a prerequisite that these issues never ever crop up and we do the right thing always.
    Omerta has to be answered to as what he went through is never acceptable .
    Somebody has to answer for any shortcomings ,poor service and shoddy treatment .

    On a lighter note meet the man with no enemy –
    Meet Walter Barnes – All men should live so long as to become this kind of old man!

    Toward the end of the Sunday service, the Minister asked, “How many of you have forgiven your enemies?”
    80% held up their hands. The Minister then repeated his question. All responded this time, except one man, Walter Barnes.

    “Mr. Barnes, are you not willing to forgive your enemies?”

    “I don’t have any,” he replied gruffly.

    “Mr. Barnes, that is very unusual. How old are you?”

    “Ninety-eight,” he replied. The congregation stood up and clapped their hands.

    “Oh, Mr. Barnes, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world?”

    The old golfer tottered down the aisle, stopped in front of the pulpit, turned around, faced the congregation, and said simply, “I outlived all them assholes” – and he calmly returned to his seat.


  10. Riaan……….thanks for your vacuous comment…….never mind that those going to the Emirates expect a modicum of respect and comfort as well as services. You are not turning into anything other than a complete mental midget…..I can recommend some blogs that are closer to your mental age as I work with the mentally handicapped……and which you’d enjoy more than UA!

  11. Come on Arsenal put your house in order. We know the club is striving to keep up with the richer clubs in terms of players wages and BiG name signings, but it is vital that you keep always in the fore-front of all planning,the little people that make the real difference at the Emirates.

  12. And your fanbase are getting as bad as the lot at legrave. Good at insults but rather intellectually deprived.

  13. In response to ‘Omerta’ my ticket experience with the Ems Cup wasbrilliant.

    I ordered and received my tickets as promised, unfortunately due to my old age, I forgot I was a pensioner.

    The club responded most efficiently and promptly for my request to change the tickets to the lower price.

    No fuss, no hassle just brilliant PR.

    Well done to the Arsenal.

  14. Re: ticket prices and the fans march today in London:

    It seems clear that any proactive activity in this area, regarding innovation such as the re-introduction of safe standing areas cannot be lead by any one single individual club.

    At arsenal we saw in ’11 the AAA hire a billboard opposite the club whilst they attacked the club, at a time that season when their team was competing (before the disallowed penalties – more then one! – in the Sunderland home game ended the title tilt).

    Yet is clear, as it always has been, that if football fans want better conditions the they need to address the right people, as can be seen with this response from the unsavoury (Legia Warsaw!) Celtic’s standing proposals:

    The entire reason and rational behind the AAA serves no purpose other then personal aggrandisement. Nothing to with the Football. Nope. No evidence for it. I can’t see any.
    This can also be seen with their consistent attempts to troll of blogs like this one, and as was recorded over recent years, all supportive Arsenal sites on the net at one time or another. It’s why they had to invent the entire schism in the first place, and invent terms like ‘AKB’ in order to attack all other arsenal fans.
    Which makes the frequency with which they get upset at Untold’s use of the term AAA all the funnier! I think they do protest too much!

  15. I just want to say….

    … a Red Member I was offered the chance of a ticket for the Besiktas game.

    I tried to buy my own and one for Mrs Jambug on line.

    After much faffing about it turned out the feisty but forgetful Mrs J had forgotten to renew her membership.

    Anyway, to cut a long story short they could not of been more helpful. They held my tickets whilst I got put through to membership. They activated Mrs j’s membership and set up the DD then directed me back to tickets where we finalised the purchase.

    A bit of a pain, but our own fault and put to rights by a very polite, helpful and efficient team.

    Well done and thanks.

    We will be there !! Cant wait.

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